Reviews or testimonials are mostly said to work on the basis of social proof. Social proof is a psychological process in which people copy the behavior of others, in an attempt to reflect correct behavior.
A testimonial tells you that someone you can identify with has bought a product and loved it. That must mean the product is just the right thing for you as well. However, ratings and reviews are not just valuable for your customers alone: Google uses them in various ways too, as I’ll explain in this post. Moreover, I’ll show how you can help Google show ratings and reviews in the search results, with the right Schema.org markup.
Ratings for your website or online shop can be twofold:
For your entire business
For a specific product
Ratings for your brand or shop will most probably be given on a website like Resellerratings.com or Google My Business . Google will see these ratings and will even add Google My Business ratings to their Knowledge Graph information. The time that Google added stars to search result pages for any website that added these ratings in schema.org is over. Google was simply flooded with ratings, and it made less sense to add them to all the results anymore. That doesn’t mean they are entirely gone, as the opinion of your visitor or customer is still equally valuable to Google. So where it makes sense, like for hotels, Google will still show that rating. Google also tends to show shop ratings in their Google Shopping results, by the way:
Product ratings are a bit of a different breed, although they work pretty much the same. Have people rate a product on your website, and add an Aggregate rating on a nice spot on your product page. Next to Google picking up on that rating and showing it in, for instance, the Google Shopping result, it increases trust in a product.
As you can see, product ratings have a different color in Google Shopping results.
Besides, in their Shopping results, you can also find product reviews from major websites in the search result pages, like this one from CNET :
CNET is a trusted source for Google, so they feel comfortable showing that rating and link these reviews on page one in the search result pages.
Obviously, it’s key to monitor these ratings and act if a product is just getting negative reviews. Either contact the reseller and ask them to fix the issues or stop selling that specific product.Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show you opening hours, locations, map and much more! »
Buy now » Info
Most of the times the ratings we discussed earlier are just half of a package deal. Ratings are great, and great ratings even greater. But if that rating is accompanied by a detailed review as well, people will be able to relate to the experience another customer had even more. Regardless if that’s for a product or an entire website. These reviews influence the decision-making process of your visitor. If they come to your website and see only negative reviews, written by real people that speak from experience, they will think twice. If these reviews are all raving about the product, people will just need a split second to click the buy button.
Reviews influence local ranking
Especially for local rankings, or local products, reviews are important . They tell Google the public perception of a brand or website. Google can process these reviews and take them into account for rankings if needed. Websites like Yelp and Foursquare help people from all over the world to find the right coffee shop or bakery. Sites like Booking.com tell people where to stay and allow people to share their experiences afterward. If you have sufficient reviews, Google shows these ratings and allows you to pick right from their search result pages already. If you search for a specific hotel in Google, you’ll find even more reviews in the search result pages:
It’s up to you which source you trust more. But we think you can’t go wrong with this hotel, right?
The image shows that you shouldn’t rule out Facebook in this as well. Maintain an active page and allow for reviews. Again, monitor these. All this positive ‘word of mouth’ combined will contribute to Google liking and ranking your online shop even better.
Ratings, reviews, and Schema.org
Google uses structured data to include extra information in the search results. The markup for structured data is taken from a vocabulary called Schema.org. A combined effort of Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Yandex, this open data format’s goal is to offer structured data that search engines can consistently use to present rich results. This could be product information, ratings, and reviews, or information about your local business.
To implement structured data, you need to offer search engines the correct markup. There are a couple of ways of doing that: Microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD . According to Google , the latter is the easiest way of adding metadata to sites these days. JSON-LD is a lightweight data-format that’s easy to read for both humans and machines. You can test your code in Google’s Structured Data Test Tool .
Reviews and ratings
By adding certain Schema.org elements to your code, it’s possible for Google to add reviews and ratings to your search results. You need to tell which parts are about the review and what that element represents. In Schema.org a rating is the aggregate value a product gets. A review is a rating, with an explanation in text.
In the example below, you see a typical Schema.org review in JSON-LD format. A couple of highlights:
type: The schema.org type (a review)
itemReviewed: What you are reviewing
type: The schema.org thing (a thing)
reviewRating: Is it a review or a rating?
type: It’s a rating
ratingValue: The number of stars (1-5)
name: The title of the review
author: Who wrote it?
type: It’s a person, of course
name: Name of the author
reviewBody: Where was the review published
publisher: The actual publisher
type: Most of the time it’s an organization
name: Name of the organization
“name”: “Yoast SEO”
“name”: “The best SEO plugin ever!”,
“name”: “Calvin Jones”
“reviewBody”: “I love working with it.”,
The same can be done for product listings. If you use the right markup, Google can pick up the data and show it in the results. You can add specifications, price, availability, reviews and ratings, and more to your listings. The code to use is comparable to the one above. In a future post, we’ll be elaborating on that a bit more.
Reviews are a godsend for local businesses. That’s why it’s rather important to add them to your listings. Using Schema.org and, for instance, JSON-LD, you give Google the opportunity to add your ratings to the search results. Potential customers will get a good idea of the quality of your business, right in the search engine.
Keep an eye on our site, because we will be diving deeper into Schema.org for products, ratings and reviews, and what it all means for local businesses.
Read more: ‘Use JSON-LD to add schema.org to your website’ »